Nanzenji Temple, and this was a little quiet shrine across the road from it. We ate our first meal at Okutan, that turned out to be one of the oldest restaurants in Kyoto serving vegetarian temple food – yudofu.
I don't know about you, but I need a lot of encouragement to get anything done. I think, and ponder, and six months later it seems I am still on the same spot, researching my options and possibilities. Miso is obviously different. Every time I meet her she's just completed yet another residency, held a solo show, just came back from a few months overseas. She has recently taken over this incredible space, 'it's only for four months', she says, but it's long enough for her to create new amazing body of work. I can't wait to see what comes out of this sublet.
End of the roll snapshot from the end of last year - plants in our studio, finding and settling into this space was one of the best things that happened last year. New space, new routines, new relationships. And even more new great thing to come.
While catching up on the blog reading after holidays I came across this beautiful thoughtful piece of writing about one of my favourite photographers ever - Ye Rin Mok:
Rough, everything is rough and yet so beautiful. Though the curtains are irregular and roughly sewn I love them because they make this picture even more noteworthy. Nowadays most of the portraits I am seeing are in the end made to make people look beautiful, it is all about appearance. When I look at this picture I don’t have this feeling, instead I feel that this place IS this woman. That is why I am considering this photo as a whole, even though she is the main subject I can’t dissociate her from this place.
When I was in Sydney last month, I spent an afternoon with Maria. I love looking at the photographs capturing her daily, that Maria posts on her blog schorlemädchen. Below are her thoughts on photography and life in Sydney, where she moved from Germany a couple of years ago.
I was always fascinated by photography and went to exhibitions or browsed blogs and flickr streams of people whose photos I really enjoyed looking at. However, I think I started taking photos regularly after getting a digital slr in 2009. I was living in Hamburg at the time and started taking lots of photos on the weekends or in my apartment which had wonderful light. I think essentially I started getting into photography in 2010 – the year I moved to Sydney, when I found an old Pentax camera at a flea market. This is when I started to experiment with the world of analog cameras.
On my weekend walks I would always have the camera with me trying to capture moments, corners and shadows which I stumbled upon.When I moved to Sydney I would go for long walks in my first weeks to explore the neighborhood and connect the different paths on the map always starting and ending at our house. Also, trying to take different routes or purposefully getting lost in the backstreets of a neighbourhood. This is how I would discover nice little corners and sometimes I had the camera with me to capture some of these moments. Photography definitely helped me to look closer at things and realize how wonderful the light here in Australia is.
I am an early bird and I like to start my weekend relatively early on a Saturday morning, usually with a visit to our local farmers market to pick up some veggies and fruit for the week. This is often followed by a walk to a surrounding neighborhood and a coffee at one of the many nice cafes here in Sydney, or by a swim in the sea depending on the season of the year. On a perfect Saturday I would also find some time to read, or craft, or chat to my husband while cooking, or fall asleep in the shadow of a tree in the nearby park.
I can definitely be in a situation in which I get very excited to take a photo of something and really try to capture this moment quickly, but I try not to get distracted too much by it and also not to get on my friends’ nerves who happen to share a meal with me. Let's put it like this, there are a lot more coffees I have then I take photos of. It can even happen that I just can't bother to get the camera out to take a photo. I still think it is important to live the moment, photos are a great way to remember it.
Besides from putting some of the photos on my blog, I also like to print some of them out to put them up on a wall at home. For the last few years I had made my family calendars for christmas with photos matching to the seasons of the past year of my life here in Sydney. This is a really enjoyable process as I take my time to go reflect on my year by browsing though all of my photos. Additionally, there are many photos which I don't put up on the blog, which I just keep for myself. I guess I also feel like some moments fascinate me so often that I happen to have lots of similar photos of places – I think both the process of taking photos, but also the time after it is very important to me.
I really like magazines with interesting layouts, photos which inspire. Some of the magazines I am always excited about are The Gentlewoman, Apartamento, COS Magazine, Brand Eins, CUT (a craft magazine) and the Weekender (those three are German publications). I also enjoy publications such as 3191 Quarterly or Wilder Quarterly.
To see Maria's photographs: http://schorlemaedchen.blogspot.com.au/
Firstly, I need to thank my studio mate Belinda for introducing me to Alex. I fell in love with her artwork straight away and was very grateful for a chance to visit Alex at her home in Bronte. Receiving an email from Alex, containing her thoughtful responses to my questions at a later date made my day and I am really excited to be sharing them with you. I think her work is really unique.
I get the impression that you almost never stop making, bringing some of the work in progress with you wherever you go, even on the bus. Is it something that comes naturally to you? Has it always been like that for you? Do you ever find yourself tired or wanting to take a break?
I guess it’s ambition? Which I didn't think I had until recently. You need to be slightly obsessed to be an artist I think, otherwise why would you do it? I have always loved to make things, but lately I have been making every day. I’m curious to see what happens next, to find out what I have the capacity to do. I feel I’m at the very beginning of my practice, finding out what I want to say, and how I want to say it. I do get tired, but making isn’t what tires me, it sustains me. I have a very broad definition of making that encompasses drawing, writing, stitching, reading, painting, collecting, arranging, picture taking and drinking a lot of tea… I switch and swap between all of these and sometimes use one to avoid another, they are all important parts of my practice.
Where do you start with some of the pieces? How do you decide when something is finished?
I often start with a previous experiment, or the pieces of another artwork that I wasn't quite happy with. Reusing bits and pieces is practical in my small flat but also sets up the challenge of working with what you have. Great satisfaction can come from transforming an overlooked material or discarded object into something new – it makes life interesting to think of objects in this way…so much potential.
There is so much joy and sweetness in your work. What do you think about when making?
I value intuitive making, exploring, not predicting the outcome…
I like to use unexpected materials to question what we value. I am interested in the happiness that can occur when we take a second look, the kind of beauty and joy that comes from sitting with the less than perfect.
It’s so easy to get distracted or disenchanted or anxious – art making is a discipline that keeps me sane and reminds me to experiment, to play and to appreciate what is around me. I use my work to focus on all the loveliness around. It does us good to spend time immersed in beauty, to be reminded of joy.
Who are some of your favourite artists or perhaps some other people that influence you?
I am most influenced by writers. I am a big fan of Mike Mills, I often read his illustrated book The History of Sadness and I adore the poetry of John Keats in particular Ode to a Nightingale. I appreciate Maira Kalman’s honest musings and sketches and enjoy Anais Nin’s embrace of intuition and femininity. I adore Alain de Botton’s tongue in cheek take on philosophy and his views on the comforting and therapeutic qualities of the arts. Jeanette Winterson is another favourite for her no-nonsense language, passion and storytelling bravery. Woody Allen is also an influence - I love that he managed to turn his anxiety into a career.
To find out more about Alex's work: http://www.alexfalkiner.com/
I am dyeing a lot of the yarns that I use myself: it’s more economical to buy a bulk of raw yarn and to dye it. I started it by default, just because I couldn’t get the colors I wanted or because it was not affordable, so I had to, I really didn’t have a choice. I still do it a little bit reluctantly, but it is really beautiful too, when I dyed the whole set of yarns and they go into my book – my library of recipes and colors. I do love sitting there with the cards and playing with different combinations and makings notes of combinations that I could try in the future, thinking of what I can do with them. And not necessarily coming up with combinations that I traditionally use, because I use quiet a neutral palette. I’ve been forcing myself to die things that aren’t within my palette: brighter colors, just more colors, so that I have reference there that hopefully will push me to use other colors rather then just greys and naturals.
So I’m building up my collection of dye cards. I am getting a little bit more confident with just trying different things and seeing if they work. Within one color there might be a whole lot of different shades that I could dye – so it’s endless and I don’t ever expect to get to the end of it. It’s going to be a nice record to have and over numerous years it will show where my interests have been.
I’d like to have a lot of space around, I would really love to have trees and greenery. I don’t like feeling like I’m living in a concrete block. I’ve grown up in the country and that’s where it comes from. My dream is one day to have a studio with lots of space and to have a really large outdoor area where I can wheel my loom outside and weave – this is my absolute dream. I think that’s what will happen eventually, I really look forward to the day but now there are certain things that keep me here and from moving to the country.
To see Kim’s work and find out more: http://shipbuildingblog.blogspot.com.au/